Sustaining Sustainability in Winter, Apple Crisp


Just as I (and many of you) expected, winter has thrown a big wrench in my sustainable food project.  I spent much of the fall season hoping to pull together a plan for the winter.  I asked farmers what they do, but even most of them rely on the grocery store!  I asked around at “local” farmers markets, but I couldn’t find any answers there either.  By the end of November, I realized that I had started this project too late in the season to actually make it work the way I had hoped it might.  This, I think, is where many people would jump right off the wagon.  And I admit, I had to really struggle to stay on myself.  But this has given me a great opportunity to stop and re-assess my goals.  I can’t save the world in a month.  This won’t work if I try to take on everything at once.  So what does my priority list look like?

At the start of this whole thing, I had three major goals, and within these goals are some basic no-nos that in my household go completely without saying, such as NO FAST FOOD.

–To reassess my outlook on “health” and create a new culture of health in my family
–to eliminate my reliance on all pre-packaged or processed foods
–to  get as close to the food source as possible.

I think I can adapt to the winter without entirely giving up on these goals.  I have tried as hard as I possibly can to rely on local produce, but as winter moves in it has become nearly impossible.  So we can either starve, or I can admit that some priorities have to come before others.  For instance, in the absence of the farmers market and until I find a better option, I will be buying my produce from Whole Foods, since the labels clearly indicate where everything is from and almost everything local is organic.  Because local produce is limited, I buy whatever I can, even if it’s not as appetizing as some of the foreign produce.  Hmmm…local kale or spinach from Peru?  I then branch out to the things that are regional, such as sweet potatoes from Mississippi.  And lastly, I fill in holes with a few domestic extras, such as organic celery from California and organic carrots from Florida.  I still question the sustainability and ethics of shopping at Whole Foods, as I recognize that there is still the issue of mass production, shipping, labor, and the issues of privilege and access surrounding Whole Foods pricing in general.

I recognize that my entire approach is questionable, but at the end of the day my health and intentionality are what’s important to me.  I have talked to a lot of people who’ve told me that they’re inspired by my blog and by the adventure my household has undertaken, but I’m watching them get discouraged and fall back into old bad habits at the first sign of trouble.  I know it’s tough.  I get it.  But my best advice is to pick three things that are extremely important to you and stick to them no matter what.

How lean is this cuisine? Try making it yourself and know for sure!

This brings me to another point.  There is a moral panic over obesity in America.  And rightfully so, perhaps.  But we are clearly pointing our fingers at the wrong culprit.  Heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses are taking a huge hold in the United States, largely due to high-fat, high-sugar, and high-sodium processed foods.  In our attempt to fix American obesity, we’ve created unhealthy, damaging dietary “solutions” (artificial sweeteners, “healthy” TV dinners, and “healthy” fast food alternatives), and have created a culture of body hatred.   Just as alarming as the obesity rate is the huge emphasis and pressure to be fit.  Which really means thin.  And I might argue that in some ways this is just as dangerous.

In adults and adolescents alike, food guilt and body consciousness manifest in some interesting ways, but the one that most concerns me is the number of people I know who do not feel bad about their bodies but instead feel bad because they think they should feel bad about their bodies.  So let me get this straight: you like yourself, but you feel like you shouldn’t…doesn’t anyone see a problem with this?  I can name several of my friends who fall into this, though I’m sure they’d be terribly upset if they saw their kids demonstrate it.

I have seen kids menus at several restaurants that now have calorie counts!  I do not want

Choosing the best of several poor options is not the same as a healthy meal.

my child counting her calories at age 6!  There has got to be a better way to teach her about  healthy choices without instilling food guilt as a family value.  I have gone out of my way to keep her out of the reach of my strict bodybuilding dieting for several years now by teaching her about moderation, but apparently food obsession has gone mainstream in a very gross way.

Ultimately, my goal is to explore another option.  To create a household that openly discusses the body and health on non-aesthetic terms.  To create a food environment that does not provoke guilt, but which emphasizes the importance of food in terms of where it comes from, why we need it, and how we can enjoy it.  To maintain a household culture that promotes fitness in its many forms, from biking and hiking to gymnastics and martial arts.

Today’s recipe: Apple Crisp
This recipe is a fantastically simple, crustless alternative to apple pie, and not even the biggest fans of apple pie will be disappointed!

How ya like them apples?! (Couldn't resist)


Apple mixture:

6 apples, peeled and diced (I leave the peels on unless I’m sharing it with others who may not like the peel)
juice from ½ orange
½ cup sugar
½ cup chopped cranberries (optional but highly recommended!)

Crumble topping:
2 cups whole oats
¾ cup brown sugar
½ stick of butter (softened but not melted)
½ cup of flour

In a mixing bowl, quickly combine brown sugar, flour, and butter into a crumbly mixture that resembles gravel or wet sand; use a fork to prevent butter from melting.  quickly mix in oats and set this mixture aside.

In a large mixing bowl, toss apples and cranberries in orange juice; sprinkle with sugar and toss lightly to coat.  Transfer apple/cranberry mixture into greased baking dish and cover evenly with crumble topping, pressing gently.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, or until apple mixture bubble slightly at the sides.  Serve with homemade whipped cream (optional).




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